Tag Archives: Barbados water shortage

How government will use Barbados Water Authority smart meters to identify tax cheats

“This is a search on of your private life, showing your personal living patterns everyday – without a warrant. Your information going out to the Barbados Water Authority, the government, the police, the insurance company; to anyone who cuts a deal with the Barbados Water Authority now or in the future.”

Yes, my friends: that BWA smart meter is part of the government data-gathering and analysis system used to identify tax cheats (and for other purposes too.)”

Smart Meters a little too smart?

Back in 2011 Barbados Free Press published Smart Meters are Surveillance Devices – Data already used by police. Since that time there have been dozens of articles by major news outlets about privacy concerns with not only water and power smart meters, but also with the rise of the internet-connected home automation and camera systems.

While the use of internet motion detection / video-camera systems and online home appliances is a choice, the installation of smart meters is mandated by the government.  And what does the BWA and the government do with the data that they collect every second? They do anything they want with that data because there are no laws against it.

Who says BWA smart meters can identify tax cheats? The technology suppliers – that’s who…

Cowater International Inc. and Sogema Technologies Inc. are the two international corporations at the top end of the US$24.7 million dollar smart meter deal with the Barbados Water Authority. The Barbados government says the total cost of the project will be US$58 million dollars.

With subsidies from the Canadian Commercial Corporation, the BWA will install almost 100,000 smart water meters on this rock and the computers and software to monitor, administer and control the system.

Commercial clients are the priority, but eventually every home will have a smart meter too. Every one of those 98,800 household smart meters will supply a wealth of data that can be married up with other data to show patterns of behaviour, associations and reveal information that never would have been noticed before. BWA data will be consolidated with other private and government data sources.  Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Economy, Ethics, Human Rights, Police

Barbados water outage: Disaster or Adventure? It depends on your point of view!

Bajan “M*M*” says Barbados Water Authority treats customers with contempt, while Jane Shattuck Hoyos says it was an adventure. (!)

First up: BFP reader M*M*

Last week Thursday and Friday, we witnessed a major 2 day water outage in areas of St. Michael and Christ Church which affected numerous residents, businesses and schools amongst others in the affected area. Children were unable to attend school, people were unable to go to work and do their business (just ask the hotels who were hosting athletes and officials from the boxing tournament) and many businesses were unable to operate effectively. It was during a period of heavy rainfall and flooding in some areas…water, water everywhere yet not a drop to drink!

What has me puzzled is that after a 60% increase in water rates in 2009 (which we were told was to retool the BWA in terms of mains replacement program etc.), a visit and “reading of the riot act” by Prime Minister Thompson, the creation of and installation of an Executive Chairman in former Senator Arni Walters that there has been little improvement at the level of service delivery at the Barbados Water Authority. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues

Does Environment Minister Lowe Pee in the Shower? He should… and so should you!

Leadership by Example!

The Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CDPMN) says that Barbados will be hit by a severe drought for the next three months. Newspaper editorials and the government are urging Bajans not to waste water, and further to do everything they can to reduce the amount they normally use. (Nation News editorial: Wasting of water has to stop.)

There is one thing that all of us can do right now that saves thousands of gallons of water a year in each home where this water saving technique is used.

We can pee in the shower every morning instead of using a gallon of water to flush a tiny bit of urine down the toilet.

How much water can be saved? Lots and Lots!

Walk to your front door right now, stick your head out and take a look at all the homes around yours. Let’s see – there’s three people in that home, two in that one, four in that one – and each morning most every person flushes the toilet and then heads for the shower. Add it up just on your street: number of people X 1 gallon of water X 365 days. Now think of the entire country and say that only 10% of the homes were “pee in the shower” members. That’s still a huge amount of water saved.

Brazil did the numbers and realized just how effective this simple technique could be. Here’s the television advertisement they ran to convince their people to pee in the shower…

Here are a few articles about how important this initiative can be to saving water:

Bohemian Revolution: Pee in the shower to save water.

The Guardian: Peeing in the shower – The Rules

Huffington Post: Brazil wants its residents to pee in the shower

How About Some Leadership from the Thompson Government?

The stakes are high, the drought is coming and this one simple step has the potential to save millions of gallons a year in Barbados.

Yup, peeing in the shower sounds icky and it probably offends the Victorian sensibilities of some politicians in the DLP government – but it is a simple step that could be very effective nationally if folks were convinced of the need.

Will Environment Minister Denis Lowe now come out publicly with a statement that he pees in the shower? Will he encourage everyone to do the same?

Over to you, Minister Lowe!

Further Reading at BFP

April 9, 2006: Can Barbados Pee It’s Way To More Water?

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Filed under Barbados, Environment